Description: Erect or sometimes climbing herbs with rhizomes or corms.
Leaves few and basal or numerous and scattered along an erect aerial stem, mostly linear to lanceolate, dorsiventral, lamina usually with numerous longitudinal veins; stipules absent.
Inflorescence terminal on herbaceous stem, racemose, cymose or rarely flowers solitary. Flowers actinomorphic, 3-merous, bisexual or more rarely unisexual and than plants dioecious or polygamous. Tepals 6, in 2 whorls, ± similar in size and shape, free or basally fused. Nectaries present at base of tepals. Stamens usually 6; filaments free; anthers usually extrorse, dehiscing by longitudinal slits. Ovary superior, 3-locular; ovule several–many per loculus; styles 3, or style 3-lobed.
Fruit capsular; seeds few–many.
Distribution and occurrence: World: 11 genera, 175 species, widespread, Africa, Mediterranean, Asia, Australia, New Zealand. Australia: 5 genera, 27 species, all States.
Angiosperm Phylogeny Website (Family: Colchicaceae, Order: Liliales)
These genera have often been included in the Liliaceae s. lat. Members of this family contain tropolonic alkaloids, including the toxic colchicine.
Text by G. J. Harden
| ||Key to the genera|| |
|1||Leaves ending in a tendril; tepals 5–8 cm long||Gloriosa|
|Leaves not ending in a tendril; tepals less than 5 cm long||2|
|2||Inflorescence an umbel; capsule septicidal||Burchardia|
|Inflorescence either not an umbel or flowers solitary; capsule loculicidal|
Back to 1
|3||Tepals with 1 or 2 nectaries on inner surface; capsule 2.5–10 mm long||Wurmbea|
|Tepals without nectaries; capsule more than 10 mm long|
Back to 2